As a child, I would never eat sandwiches at a deli. My mother struggled with me when preparing school lunches. I wouldn’t touch a turkey sandwich “like a normal child,” she would say. However, I loved a fresh chicken sandwich that was homemade. I realized as I grew up, I just really didn’t like the salty taste of cold cuts. Still to this day, I don’t like eating cold cuts and have to be creative to get around the “traditional sandwich” and still bring a sandwich to work!
Why have you done a good thing?
Turns out my dislike for cold-cuts was just fine and perhaps healthier for me. Using traditional cold-cuts or deli meats adds a ton of sodium, nitrates, and artificial fillers that are not natural to meat. Research shows that these meats should be eaten sparingly due to their association with cancer risk. Best thing to do? Use fresh roasted chicken, like rotisserie chicken or fresh roasted chicken or turkey from home, which gives you a healthy dose of protein and minerals with none of the unhealthy extras.
- Chicken peach quesadillas with low-fat cheese and whole wheat tortillas
- Homemade chicken salad with lite mayo and grapes. Serve on top of salad, in a sandwich, or as dip for sliced celery, carrots, or peppers
- Bulk up no salt added canned soup with shredded chicken
- Make an easy stir-fry with cubed rotisserie chicken, assorted veggies, and low-sodium soy sauce. Serve over brown rice or udon noodles.
- Throw sliced chicken on top of salad for lunch for work
- Make a sliced chicken (instead of cold cuts) sandwich with veggies and honey mustard on whole wheat bread
- Plain jane it; Make a dinner with a piece of rotisserie chicken, side of easy veggies like sliced carrots and a baked potato
- Mix rotisserie chicken into brown rice/lo-mein noodles, 1 tbsp canola oil, soy sauce, 1 egg, and veggies for homemade Chinese take-out
- Make a grilled chicken panini with low-fat cheese and veggies
- Mix into pasta sauces; serve on top of whole wheat pasta
Whole Foods makes rotisserie chickens every day that are wonderful and delicious, as well as hormone/antibiotic free and free range.
Still like that cold-cut taste? Try healthier versions in your sandwiches made by Whole Foods or delis. These vendors now make in-house roasted turkey and lean roast-beef, which is just sliced fresh meat to look like cold cuts. No nitrates or sodium and they taste much more natural and less salty.
Don’t feel pressured to always make a sandwich full of meat! Alternatives to meat sandwiches:
-Tuna or salmon salad made with low-fat mayo and chopped veggies
-Chickpea/Low-fat Feta pita pockets with tomato, lettuce, and onion
-Peanut Butter/Soy Butter and Apple/Banana/Raisin Sandwiches
-Black Bean and Brown Rice Burrito Wraps (add salsa or a slice of avocado!)
-Baked Falafel pita pockets (make ahead of time for the work week)
Try this recipe!!
· 1 cup dried chickpeas or 16 oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
· 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
· 1 teaspoon coriander
· 1 teaspoon cumin
· 2 tablespoons flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain chickpeas in a colander and rinse. Combine all ingredient together in a bowl (or in a food processor), mashing well making a paste. Form into small balls and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes). Take 2-3 balls into a pita pocket with 1 tbsp of hummus, cucumber, onion, and lettuce.
--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN